Moisés and Armando Jiménez are brothers who have continued their grandfather’s traditional Oaxacan wood carving. The animals in ABeCedarios were handmade by the Jiménez family who live in Oaxaca, Mexico. Armando and Moisés carved the creatures. Their children Alex, Nancy and Eduardo sanded each one. Then the figures were lovingly painted by their wives, Antonía and Oralía.
Armando and Moisés are the grandsons of Manuel Jiménez, founder of the Oaxacan woodcarving tradition. In the late 1950s shepherd, Manuel Jimenez began making wooden animals. The pieces were bought by a folk art store owner in Oaxaca City. When the creatures were quickly purchased by tourists, Manuel was asked to make more. Seeing Manuel’s success, other figures began to imitate his work. Eighty other families in their town of Arrazola also make woodcarvings.
Today over eighty families in the pueblo of Arrazola make their living from carving wood. The town lies below the archeological ruins of Monte Alban. Many tourists, after a visit to the ruins, come to Arrazola to buy wooden figures. Carvers use the copal tree which grows plentifully in the mountains around their town. They make all sorts of things from the wood.
To begin the process of making a figure, Armando and Moises first carefully look through their wood pile. They say they can see the creature inside of each log. Next they carve the figure with a large knife called a machete. When completed the figure must dry for several days. Everyone in the family helps out in some way to make the pieces. Moises children, Nancy and Eduardo, and Armando’s son Alex sand the pieces. Then wives Antonia and Oralia paint each figure.
Each animal in AbeCedarios took about a week to make. Preparing each piece was a lot of work for the Jimenez family. They were very happy when they saw the first completed copy of AbeCedarios; but they enjoyed the book party even more.
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